Tag Archives: service learning

Lessons from our Fall Meeting

Service learning offers students authentic opportunities to construct their own knowledge versus being told the “right” answer. With service learning, there often isn’t one right answer, outcomes are open-ended and definitions are subjective and changeable.  In fact, with service learning, students are able to continuously construct and deconstruct what they know through practices like research and reflection embedded in this learning process.

At ECSL’s fall meeting participants were offered many opportunities to experience this for themselves. First, participants worked together to build definitions of community service versus service learning. Below is an example of how people represented the similarities and differences between these two concepts.


Let members of your own school community construct their understanding of community service and service learning by seeing this activity in action here. Added bonus: the method can be adapted to define and distinguish many other concepts in your classroom, too!

Afterwards, and the highlight of the meeting, was the opportunity to hear stories of how three student groups engaged in service learning at their respective schools. With each presentation, their ownership of the process shined through. These students experienced the power of constructing knowledge through service learning. Featured at the meeting were an elementary water awareness project, a middle school STEAM partnership with a local charter school, and a high school sustainability audit with a local business. You can find footage of these stories from the meeting here. Witness the 5 Stages of Service Learning in action and consider how these experiences can be adapted to meet the needs of your grade level and curriculum.

Later, participants engaged in round table conversations to address each others’ questions surrounding their service learning practices. Participants self-selected into topics that were on their minds. Just like service learning itself, there was no expectation for one right answer to the issues brought forth. Instead, the conversations served to pool member’s collective knowledge and experiences and help them develop tools to address these areas of service learning. The photos below reveal how some groups represented their conversations.

“How do we get stakeholders at our school to see service learning as an integrated, essential element of learning rather than an add-on to the curriculum?”


“What is it that sparks students’ interest and investment in service learning?”


See how ECSL structured these open-ended round table discussions about the issues that mattered most to the participants here.

ECSL exists to bring service learning to life- through real-time stories, networking and support for your program challenges. At this meeting, your experiences were at the heart of the conversation. We look forward to continuing the dialogue at our winter workshop on February 2nd, 2016!

A Four-Way Reflection of Service Learning

Four Corners Workshop

This February ECSL was honored to have Cathryn Berger Kaye lead participants through a service learning immersion experience. Four Corners is a highly engaging activity that explores the stages of service learning first hand. Within the service learning methodology developed by Kaye, there are several elements that come in fours; four kinds of action research used to explore a community need and four types of service that can be performed, for example. Such concepts came to life during this dynamic experience. To help capture some of the discoveries made, here are “four” teachable moments participants explored as they immersed themselves in service learning:

Framing: One powerful motivator for service learning lies in the ability to frame the process from a student’s perspective. Their interests, skills and talents can be unveiled and utilized during the service learning process. Students can have a voice for societal issues they care about and be at the center of proactive ways to address their concerns.

Organizing: Students get real experience in community organizing as they explore questions like, “Who amongst us has skills and talents that can be put to good use during this process? Who in the community is doing something to address the societal issue at hand? How can we come together to provide a service for an unmet need in our community?”

Understanding: When students engage in authentic investigation about their community, they come to a deeper understanding about what is needed to support the cause. When they use action research, they immerse themselves in real-life discovery through activities like interviewing or conducting surveys. Students and teachers alike come to know Confucius’ adage: I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Reinforcing: Throughout the stages of service learning students get a chance to revisit skills they are building. For example, note-taking can be practiced when interviewing a community partner, and then reinforced as they do follow-up research with media content. Students may write letters to invite an expert into the classroom as a part of their investigation, and then revisit the skill again by writing thank you letters for their visit. Students develop proficiency for skills they are able to practice through repetition. They may come to see them as more valuable or practical too because they  are serving a purpose within a real-world context. Four Corners Activity

Teachers, administrators and community organization representatives came together to explore these powerful elements of service learning. Four Corners: A Service Learning Immersion Experience became their road map for the service learning process. Now, they are equipped with tools to take their students on a service learning journey through the four seasons and to the four corners of the earth.

Learn more about Cathryn Berger Kaye’s work on her website, including upcoming professional development opportunities through her Summer Institute  for educators.

ECSL Winter Workshop

ECSL invites administrators, faculty, parents and local organizations to join us for our Winter Workshop as CATHRYN BERGER KAYE, international service learning expert and author, leads A SERVICE LEARNING IMMERSION EXPERIENCE:

Four Corners

This highly engaging interactive experience provides a step-by-step teaching model that combines the five stages of service learning in a practical approach you can use easily with your students. Learn by doing! Cathryn has led this session around the world with great acclaim and now is your opportunity to join in.

Monday, February 9, 2015

11:15 – 1:45pm  (lunch provided)

Hosted at:

New Roads School

3131 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica  (Please Carpool)

All our ECSL gatherings are designed to be highly participatory and always allow for you to connect with fellow educators, local organizations and service learning practitioners. Leave with practical ideas, resources, strategies, motivation, contacts and vision to advance your service learning!

ECSL seeks local nonprofits, teachers-in-training, public and independent school faculty, involved parents and administrators to participate. Bring a neighborhood partner school or educator friend. Kindly pass along contact information so we can invite and inspire other teachers. We are glad to add your referrals to our mailing lists.

Help us update our communications. If you are no longer your school’s Service Learning representative please provide more current contact information.


PLEASE RSVP BY Monday, February 2, 2015

Any questions? ECSLabc@gmail.com or call 310 476-0588

*Access the flyer to pass on to colleagues:

Fall 2014 Meeting In Review

“I’ve been an administrator, an educator, and a student, but none of those roles has defined me.  At heart, I am a learner.  I continue to reflect on where to lead, whom to follow, how to teach, and what to learn.” –Holly Chesser, Education Blogger

At ECSL’s fall workshop participants entered as administrators, educators, parents, or community partners. Yet together we were all learners. ECSL representatives shared ways to reframe our service learning practices. We thought about the echoes of students’ service experiences. How do they impact ourselves, our school, our community and our world? We reviewed The Five Stages of Service Learning Standards and Benchmarks. We framed the standards as a series of actions alive in our classrooms. What do the five stages look like? We shared ideas at round table discussions addressing our challenges and goals as service learning practitioners. We found someone new in this network of colleagues to support our endeavors. We learned.

As a virtual learner, you can revisit the fall meeting content through the videos and resources posted on ECSL’s website. Continue your learning at our winter workshop where we will gather with community organizations to grow reciprocal relationships that benefit both educators and organizations; that lead to meaningful and impactful service. Thank you for being a part of the ECSL learning community!

ECSL Winter Workshop
Monday, Feb 9th, 2015
New Roads School
3131 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

*Organization workshop (special in-service for community organizations) begins at 10:15am. Joint educator-organization workshop continues from 11:30am – 1:45pm.

Resources for ECSL Oct 7, 2014 Meeting: Integrating Service Learning with Intention & Creativity

Click on the links to view and download the resources referenced at ECSL’s Fall Workshop.


Donna Ritter Introduction: Inspire Service Learning with Creativity & Intention

Kim Wynn: Reframe & Stretch your Service Learning Thinking

Addy Porter: Community Service & Service Learning Examples

Sammy Lyon: Rockstars @ Travis Heights Elementary — Echoes of Our Learning: Self, School, Community & World

Jacqui Cameron: Service Learning Standards for Outcomes that Resonate

Marissa Nadjarian: Roundtable Discussions & ECSL Networking

Roundtable Discussion: How Do We Grow Youth Voice?



General Meeting Handouts

Echoes of Our Learning
ECSL Echoes of Our Learning

Rockstars at Travis Heights Elementary (watch video)

Defining Community Service and Service Learning

Essential Elements of Service Learning, by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Service Learning Standards
Service Learning Standards & Benchmarks , American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ) & Cathryn Berger Kaye

5 Stages of Service Learning , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Across the Curriculum Planner , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Roundtable Topic Resources

1. What builds administrator buy-in?

Developing a Culture of Service , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Service Learning Guideposts , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Teacher Time Infographic , from the Center for Teaching Quality

2. How are you connecting your SL to STEM and Common Core standards?

Common Core and Service Learning , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

3. What’s an SL Coordinator to do?

Service Learning Guideposts , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

4. What sells SL to your faculty?

Why Service Learning Matters , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Teacher Time Infographic from the Center for Teaching Quality

5. How do we grow youth voice?

Rights, Wants and Needs from UNICEF

6. How can the role of parents be more supportive?

Parent Involvement in Service Learning Booklet from The National Dropout Prevention Center

7. How can we transition from community service to service learning?

Differences Between Service Learning and Community Service , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Connecting Service Learning Themes , ECSL resource

8. How can we motivate meaningful senior projects?

Finding Your Cause , by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Service Idea Mapping from Generation Earth

Service Meets 21st Century Skills, by Cathryn Berger Kaye

Tech Tools 101: Your Social Media Workout!

New Media and Education Consultant, Sammy Lyon, describes her course as, “practical skills (and a kick in the butt) to help you finally become social media and technology savvy.” Participants attending the workshop, which was hosted by Windward School on November 2nd, definitely got a workout to flex those technology muscles.


Here’s the exercise regimen:

The Tech: Web-based programs and Apps like Dropbox, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, Pinterest, and Google Docs, as well as software such as iMovie, GarageBand or Audacity. Sammy Lyon helped develop each person’s social media presence. If you didn’t have a Twitter account before, you started a profile and tried your first Tweet. Never got around to downloading the Instagram app? There was support for that too.

The Tools: The workout wasn’t without “equipment” to help each participant build strength in technology. Sammy provided graphic organizers and handouts geared to guide each educator’s workshop experience- how to document their process and set goals with technology. Participants were offered hands-on practice with tools like audio recording devices for the iPhone.

The 101: Just as a workout is made up of a combination of exercises, the learning took place in many different forms. There was trial and error with different programs. Participants shared prior experience and knowledge with their new colleagues. Sammy posed thought-provoking questions that were discussed (and Tweeted!). She shared examples of how social media can be used authentically in the classroom to engage youth in social change. After, participants were given time to work on a project with a new technology tool of their choice, and each person shared their product. A few of the ventures: Pinterest boards for Irrigation Inspiration and Sustainable Dream Yards (check out TreePeople’s Pinterest page) ; a Podcast about the experiences of workshop participants; A WordPress blog to document the happenings in a K-1 classroom. And the learning doesn’t stop here. Participants were invited to keep in touch and share their continued work through the cohort’s Google Doc.


Sammy’s presence as the class instructor was more like a coach than a drill sergeant. Participants may have worked hard, but not to the point of exhaustion. Instead, at the end of the day, you sensed stronger and more energized educators- ready to stand alongside their students as they take on social media and technology together.

Want to give the workout a try? Campbell Hall will be hosting Sammy Lyon’s program on March 8th at Campbell Hall School, and there is also a video course available. Visit www.lyonideas.com/register to find out more.

This workshop supports ECSL’s commitment to providing professional development and collegial exchange for service-learning practitioners who are dedicated to promoting civic responsibility in today’s youth. Check the “Upcoming Events” section on our web page to get details about other programs and events this school year.

ECSL Meeting April 24, 2013: Show & Grow